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Youth painting on the collaborative painting wall at Make it. Happen. in September 2016. A portfolio workshop for emerging artists. Photo by Zara Ansar.

stArtup: Ottawa Art Gallery’s new youth council

By Danuta Sierhuis on January 16, 2017



The Education and Public Programs department at the Ottawa Art Gallery (OAG) has developed a new youth council, stArtup, geared towards involving youth ages 17-25 in the gallery’s programs and operations.

Doug Dumais, OAG Education Assistant and one of the stArtup coordinators, said that the youth council’s aim is “to open up the gallery to make it more inclusive for youth.”

Participants of the Stick it! Workshop creating their comic-book stickers at the OAG. Ottawa-based artist Ben Jensen lead the workshop. Photo by Stephanie Nadeau.

Participants of the Stick it! Workshop creating their comic-book stickers at the OAG. Ottawa-based artist Ben Jensen lead the workshop. Photo by Stephanie Nadeau.

As a precursor to the official launch of the youth council, the gallery hosted two events in the Fall of 2016 geared towards youth, including a portfolio development event for emerging artists and a sticker making workshop with local artist, Ben Jensen. Both of these events were very well-attended, and showed that there was enough interest from Ottawa’s youth to launch the stArtup youth council.

stArtup will provide youth with diverse opportunities to engage with the gallery as it expands into its new building over the next year.

“We’re hoping the youth council will be comprised of approximately 10-20 people in the 17-25 age group,” Dumais says. “We’re expecting that they will come with various interests and levels of expertise, and as far as programming opportunities that the council will get to work on — that is really up to them! The council is really about activities and projects for youth by youth.”

Some possibilities for potential youth council projects, include organizing events across the city as OAG leaves its current location at Arts Court after it’s DepArty, held on January 20th. The gallery also hopes to diversify its programming, potentially creating pop-up events with the youth council to engage youth as OAG’s main gallery spaces go dark and with the OAG Annex at City Hall.

With opportunities for mentorship with the gallery’s staff and gaining real-world arts experience, including grant writing, writing blog articles, and managing projects, the youth council will provide its members with invaluable skills that will assist them in their future careers, whether in the arts or in related fields.

Dumais also hopes that, “with such a diverse age group, members will also be able to mentor each other, since they will all be in different stages in their education and careers.”

stArtup youth council members will also be able to use their participation in this initiative to complete their high school volunteer hours or on their university co-curricular record– either way it will look amazing on university or graduate school applications and CVs.

For those interested in being a part of the council, contact Doug Dumais at before January 15th 2017. Interested participants are asked to commit to 1 to 2 evenings per month for council meetings for a one year term. The stArtup program is supported by TD.